Oct. 15, 2008
– Senior Guard D’Andre Bell
You’ve played a lot of point guard in the last year or two. Is that something you think you will be doing this year?
“You never know. It’s always up in the air. I might see some time there, but I like to play my natural position which is the wing. I will do whatever is best for the team.”
Does it help you defensively when you move back to the wing?
“You have to be paying attention and heads up regardless of what position you play. As far as endurance goes, it takes a lot of energy playing point guard.”
In the offseason, what did you work on the most?
“I tried to expand my offensive game. I want to average more points and just be more consistent. I want to help the team more from that perspective but still keep up my defensive intensity. I need to be more aggressive. Last year at times I was too passive. If you go down the stat line, sometimes I’m 2-for-2, 3-for-3 and then 6-for-6.”
Are you going to focus more on your three-point shot this season?
“Yes…and I want to expand my range. If that works for me, then it will just open up my mid-range game.”
What do you see as far as improvements in this year’s team?
“We are a much more experienced team. We are different than last year in that we are quicker and faster. We are also smaller, but that can work to our benefit. As far as rebounding goes, it is going to have to be a team effort. We can’t just leave it up to our big guys. We want to get the ball and run which is a benefit of having a small team.”
It seemed there were some problems with ball-handling last year. Do you feel more confident as a team heading into this season?
“We have definitely improved in that area. I don’t think it is just limited to ball handling per se. There are several different aspects of the game where we are dramatically better. Whether it’s getting the ball up the floor, inbounding it or getting it to the wing, ball handling takes a lot of team chemistry. I think we have grown a lot in that area of the game.”
How did you like getting up for those 6 a.m. workouts?
“I loved them. I like anything that gets us better. We are already in much better shape this year than in previous years.”
Football in Georgia is a big rivalry. How about in basketball?
“It’s definitely a rivalry. We not only play for ourselves, but for the school, our fans and family. I’m from Los Angeles so I didn’t know much about it, but when I played in that first game against UGA, I could sense something special in the gym. I could feel it in the air.”
How nice is it this season to not have to break in a new point guard?
“Having true point guards is great. If you break down the Coach Hewitt offense, the point guard is the catalyst. We’ve had some trouble in the past bringing the ball up or getting organized, so it’s going to be nice this season having some experience in the back court.”
How do you feel you have developed as a person and a player since you’ve been here?
“I have grown in so many areas. I have become a more versatile player. You grow up fast being 2,000 miles from home and it was an honor to come to a school with the academic reputation that Georgia Tech has. We play in the number one conference in America in front of a sell-out crowd every night. I have enjoyed it a lot. I love being in Atlanta. It’s not much different than Los Angeles. You have your city feel, but also a country feel.”
Junior Forward Zachery Peacock
On the big guys preseason workouts
“We have been pushing each other, pushing each other to just get better. We have worked on getting better at rebounding. All of us have committed to getting better at rebounding. We are just going to get the job done, boxing out, rebounding and running.”
On playing small forward
“Coach just threw that at me this morning. He said he is going to throw me in as a small forward. I am down for it.”
On his three-point range
“Yeah, I have been working at it. You know they moved the three-point line but I have been working on it to get better.”
On this season’s team compared to last season’s version
“This year’s team is going to make the tournament. It is not like we are as experienced as last season’s team, but this season’s team has a lot of energy. We have a lot of high-energy guys. Especially with Iman (Shumpert), he has so much energy, as soon as he steps on the court, he is going to take off. We have a lot more potential this season.”
On having a returning point guard (Maurice Miller) on the roster
“Being that he (Maurice Miller) knows the system, and he can also teach Iman (Shumpert), I think it is going to really help our team.”
On morning runs on the track
“Running on the track is a real experience. I enjoyed it a little bit. I am a morning person so it was not a big deal for me at all.”
On changes in his game this season
“I see my game this season as basically the same as last year. I want to rebound a little bit more. I also may put the ball on the floor a little more. Last season, I would always backpedal when the ball went up so I can get back on defense, but I have tried to change my mindset. Now when I see it go up I will attack the rim. It is not really a skill that I’ve perfected; it is more of a mindset I have changed.”
On freshman guard Iman Shumpert
“He’s looking really good. I’m very fortunate to get a chance to play with him this year. I feel he has so much energy that it overtakes him sometimes, but as soon as he learns to calm down he is going to be a great basketball player.”
Sophomore Guard Maurice Miller
On how he is being a mentor to freshman Iman Shumpert
“We compliment each other, we don’t miss a beat. He can shoot, and I can shoot. He pushes the tempo, and I push the tempo, and we are good leaders. Some teams, when you make a substitution, you lose the beat a little bit, but I don’t think we will lose the beat this year. Whether it’s me playing or him playing, I think we will still keep up the tempo and play Georgia Tech basketball.”
On how the team has changed since last season….
“Overall we are tougher mentally and physically, and more together at this point than we were last year. If we keep moving at this rate and this pace, and keep communicating like we are, I think we will do better because overall it is a team effort. If everyone complements each other and does what they need to do, we will have a better opportunity to win.”
On what he learned from his freshman season….
“You have to learn through experience. When you are out there, a lot of things are going on that you have to learn and master. You just have to settle down and be calm. At first when I was out there, everything was moving so fast, people were just moving and going, and I didn’t know what was going on. Once I learned that and mastered that, the tempo and everything slowed down, and I was able to control everything that was going on.”
On how he has improved since last season…
“I am more conditioned. I feel like my conditioning was much better at the end of last season than where I should have been the whole year. This off-season, we did track workouts, which helped us more mentally. They were very tough, but we all made it and we all pulled through. I feel that the conditioning, plus knowing what to expect and what to go through, have made me much better as opposed to last year when I was just going through the motions and didn’t really know what to expect.”
On how the players are pushing each other to be better…
“We are pushing each other mentally, physically and even academically. If you don’t get the grades you can’t play. That’s the key concept right there. We are always behind each other. If one person knows something about a subject that another needs help with, they will help them. We are like one big family.”